Happy Birthday, Martin McDonagh!

On this day, 48 years ago, a little boy of Irish descent was born in London, it was playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh.

He started his career as a playwriter, in the late 1990s, with six plays separated in two trilogies, all located in and around County Galway, where he spent his holidays as a child. He was successful right from the start, and year after year, play after play, he gained the status of one of the most acclaimed living playwrights in Ireland. 

But I haven't seen any of those which is why I'm going to talk only about his brilliant films, starting off with his first movie, the 2004 short Six Shooter which earned him an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film in 2006. It tells the story of a recently widowed man (Brendan Gleeson) who finds himself on a train in the same carriage as a couple who has just lost their son and an annoying cynical young man who arouses his fellow passengers. It's a simple and yet brilliant film about grief and people dealing with death in very different ways.

In its 30 minutes, you can spot all the elements of McDonagh's unique style. Rapid dialogue, politically incorrect characters, realistic and gory violence, twisted dark humour, exaggerations, unpredictable stories with interesting and shocking twists and turns, wonderful balance between humour and drama, and beautiful photography.

Brendan Gleeson, Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell - In Bruges (2008)

It's four years later, in 2008, that McDonagh has the chance to bring all that to the next level with his first feature film, the one that made me fall in love with his work, In Bruges. This one follows two Irish hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who are sent to Bruges, Belgium, where they are waiting for ordered by their ruthless boss (Ralph Fiennes), and it's brilliant. It once again revolves around death only this time it focuses one's consciousness and principles. And it's an explosion of violence --it does, however, show how pointless and absurd it is. 

2012 is the year of Seven Psychopaths, another amusing and witty dark comedy dealing with death that follows an alcoholic screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who is struggling to come up with an idea for a new screenplay and becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his friend (Sam Rockwell) kidnaps a gangster's (Woody Harrelson) beloved dog. This is McDonagh going a little Hollywood-style as the action has a much bigger role than it had in his previous film(s). This, however, doesn't make it any less enjoyable. 

Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell - Seven Psychopaths (2012)

And then 2017 came and so did Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It follows Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother seeking justice for the rape and murder of her daughter who makes the bold move to purchase three billboards and uses them to directly accuse the chief of police (Woody Harrelson) of having done nothing to catch the killer. An immature policeman (Sam Rockwell) gets involved and a war begins between Mildred and the law enforcement. This is arguably McDonagh's best yet as well as my favourite of the bunch. It's dark, twisted and thought-provoking, it has one of the greatest endings in cinema history which makes it one of the most powerful films of recent years, and fantastic dialogue. McDonagh delivers a flawless combination of drama and comedy and he is able to get genuine laughs while building tension and suspense.

Martin McDonagh and Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

But most of all, There Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has complex, developed and believable characters. Mildred is McDonagh's first real female character. Until now, his female characters were all paper-thin and not so relevant to the story. Instead, Mildred is a strong, developed character and arguably one of the best McDonagh has written so far.

Ultimately, I feel like Martin McDonagh's are the kind of films you either love or hate, and I absolutely love them. I don't know what the future holds, but I hope it's more brilliant films for us and more recognition aka awards for him. 

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